The richly-coloured Romanesque complete with Byzantine politics full of intrigue and deception will be over in two days. America would have chosen their lead character. I am already getting withdrawal symptoms. An empty nest will be my living room with the television set gone dumb. Long, dark, winter evenings will leave me lonely.

No longer will I get to witness the wars between presidential hopefuls flexing their power of survival. They were my staple entertainment last winter when snow, rain and wind fiercely lashed at the windowpanes. The couch potato in me would watch the storm outside with equanimity as the turbulence on my TV screen pounded with the motely bunch of men and one woman spar, claw, chew each other. All appeared utterly incompetent to lead, yet they leapt for the political kill, destructive and demonic. Briefly, each of them rose, only to fall flat. It was thrilling. This was the Republican Party primary debates.

‘Winter kills,’ rightly wrote Richard Condon.

‘Spring seduces,’ said Condon. As the political fisticuffs proceeded, the blossoms outside my window competed with the scandals, corruption, wife cheating, religious fanaticism, racial slurs, women baiting, job outsourcing, middle class strangling and enriching the rich that I heard from these presidential hopefuls. I was seduced by the scandals boiling over. Speaker Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife came on TV to tell the world he had wanted an “open marriage” in which he could have both a wife and a mistress. In an interview with ABC News' ‘Nightline’ Marianne Gingrich said she refused to go along with the idea that she share her husband with the young Callista Bisek, who would later become Newt’s third wife.

‘Summer thrills:’ The weather outside beckoned one to leave the living room and step out for a soak in the sun or a dip in the pool. The long summer evenings were better spent gazing at the brilliant sunsets followed by dragon flies lighting up your space, rather than glued to the din on TV. Politics too took a summer break, but not before it ended its weaning process. The Republican candidates dropped like nine pins from the race, one by one.

By summer’s end, Mitt Romney, the millionaire Mormon was declared the winner of the eight-month old marathon.

‘Autumn sates:’ My love affair of American politics, sated yet hungry for more, returned with the heat receding and autumn starting. I saw each day the centuries-old trees burnishing their leaves with gold, sienna, and crimson red. God’s cycle was in evidence: the leaves, green and gorgeous in summer, had turned colour, as they do every Fall, and must now drop.

As time went by, Mitt proved to be a disaster. The way he walked, more like a pigeon; the way he talked, more like a robot; the words he uttered, more like an alien. His one-liners provided hours of hilarity. High priests at the Republican headquarters secretly winced and seethed each time Romney opened his mouth.

And then something happened!

‘A lazy wimp’ that’s how Andrew Sullivan of Daily Beast described President Obama’s first debate performance. Sullivan was not alone in his disgust for Obama letting his opponent Romney shellac his four years in the White House.

Romney had transformed from a gawky, awkward fumbler to a gladiator taking Obama down in the first round.

The margin of victory that Obama was enjoying as reflected by the polls diminished overnight. The next morning we woke to see Romney up by a few points and Obama down.

There is nothing as a ‘second chance.’ If you fail the first time, that’s it! Don’t we all know this too well? In school if you scored low, your report card said so and your parents harangued you to death. In college, if you under-performed, the university degree that you received said so. You could not go back and change your third division to first division. In a job interview, if you blew it once, out you went from the exit door, never to return. In business, if you took a foolish risk, you never saw your money again.

“If President Obama loses, it will be his pathetic performance that 70 million people saw, during the first debate,” say political pundits. I could not agree more.

Obama failed to wrest back his margin at the polls despite his pugnacious performance during the second presidential debate. Just by looking at Anne Romney and her two sons flanking her in the audience was the biggest giveaway of the night. Even the hot pink dress Anne wore failed to lighten her spirits. She looked downright depressed at her husband’s attempts at hustling, flimflamming and glaring at the president. The bully in him was visible, making the 65-year-old appear peevishly arrogant than confident.

On the flip side, Michelle Obama, sheathed in hot pink (both the ladies wore identical colours in support of the breast cancer awareness month) looked upbeat, perky and ready for another four years at the White House.

But the day after told a different story: While, Obama won the debate, the numbers on the polls didn’t move in his direction.

A week later, the third and the final debate saw the two spar, filibuster, strong-arm, act like yobos, still, Obama could not down Romney, the unflappable. Romney portrayed himself as a Buddhist, a man of peace.

Ah, the first debate! One had heard men throw away their kingdoms for the love of a woman; but one had never heard of a sitting president throw away his chance of a second term for a mere 90-minute debate debacle.

A debate does a president make?

Afterword: Obama is black; Romney is white. Say the liberal media. Which one will America choose as its next president? Heaven alone knows. Never before has race mattered. Never before have we seen such defining lines in a presidential race — whites for Romney, coloured for Obama. Four years ago, the political landscape was colour blind. And hence it chose a black over a white. Because Obama’s appeal was universal, just like a rock star, wherever he went, he brought brilliant sunshine with him and a golden glory never seen before.

anjumniaz@rocketmail.com


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